Apple unveils 'HomePod' speaker, first new product in years

"I'm dispensing with the updates, other than to tell you, Apple's doing great", Apple CEO Tim Cook said in brief opening remarks as he took the stage at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, Calif.

Claiming that it will do to your home what the iPod did to portable music Apple is pushing this as the first premium speaker that combines intelligence with fantastic sound quality.

But while Amazon and Google have stressed the daily practicalities of the artificial intelligence assistants that run Echo and Home, Apple framed HomePod more as a music-listening platform, with practicalities like reminders and calendar nearly an after thought. It's unclear how Apple's music service will integrate with HomePod, although Apple's website boasts the smart speaker as having access to Apple Music's 40 million songs, so that seems to confirm it.

Apple is hoping a new smart home speaker will strike a chord with music lovers - the latest test of the iPhone maker's ability to redefine markets originally staked out by its rivals.

APPLE'S LONG-RUMOURED Siri speaker is official as the "HomePod", confirming, if nothing, that the company needs a new marketing department. It most likely is now generating a bit lower gross margins on iPhones as smartphone component prices and competition heat up, but it has made up the difference from higher-margin software products such as commissions from apps and subscriptions to Apple Music. The Google Home and Amazon Echo are both priced below that but we still don't know the sound differences and capabilities between them.

Over the course of the past year of booming interest in bots and artificial intelligence, Siri has largely been overshadowed by competitors like Microsoft's Cortana, Amazon's Alexa, and the Google Assistant, each of which has opened up to third-party developers.

More news: China vows to adhere to Paris climate deal

One of the biggest criticisms of the Echo is the way it sounds and Apple is focused on making sure its HomePod is top of pops when it comes to sound. Apple's entry into the market could change that.

The device will be available in white and space grey and retail for $349.

WWDC stands for World Wide Developer Conference, though some Apple fans insist on calling it "dub dub".

A HomePod speaker that plays music and lets you talk to Siri. It also introduced autoplay blocking, which stops music and video from playing automatically without your permission on websites as well as "intelligent tracking prevention", which stops ads from following you around the web.

At the event, Apple also announced updates to its mobile operating system, iOS, and its Mac operating system. Perhaps most just care about convenience and putting a few assistants around the home without breaking the bank.

With Apple doing small things to make AI more visible and powerful across more of its devices, the company appears to be acknowledging people's continued use of impressively smart apps like Google Translate and the Google App. The company could turn out something more striking than Amazon's utilitarian black tube or Google's air freshener. If the speculation pans out, the speaker would be Apple's first new product since its smartwatch in 2015.

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